Farm Bill: Congressional Inaction on Disaster Bill; 2018 Agenda Items

At the end of 2017, Congress passed a temporary spending bill to prevent a government shutdown, but failed to complete work on an $81-billion disaster aid package. In addition to assistance for hurricanes and wildfires, the disaster package also included provisions dealing with the cotton and dairy programs.  Today's update provides a brief recap of some of the pre-holiday legislative activity, and highlights news articles discussing the legislative agenda in the new year.
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Recent USDA-ERS Reports: Farm Structure (2017), and Evolving Distribution of Government Farm Payments (1991-2015)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has recently released two separate reports that provide interesting perspective on the structure of U.S. agriculture.  The first provides a detailed overview of current statistics relating to U.S. farms, while the second highlights the evolving distribution of Federal farm payments (1991-2015).  This update underscores key findings from the two recent ERS reports.
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Iowa Farmland Values, and the Corn Belt Economy- “At a Crossroads”

The 2017 Iowa State University Land Value Survey was released on Tuesday, and showed that farmland values climbed 2% this year.  The survey was conducted in November by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.  Highlights of the survey are discussed in today's update, along with recent news articles that explored the state of the Corn Belt agricultural economy in greater detail.
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RFS: Rift Between “Corn State” Senators & “Oil-and-Gas State” Senators Persists

Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Tex.), along with several of his GOP colleagues, met with President Trump and other executive branch officials regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  Today's update looks briefly at some of the recent political maneuvering among Senators that led to the RFS meeting with Sen. Cruz, and examines some of the news articles that highlighted the results of that session.
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USDA Updates U.S. Ag Export Forecast Amid NAFTA Worries

In fiscal year 2017, U.S. agricultural exports totaled $140.5 billion, representing the third-highest level on record.  In its quarterly export forecast in August, USDA indicated that fiscal year 2018 agricultural exports were projected at $139.0 billion.  However, in its latest quarterly forecast, released late last month, USDA increased the fiscal year 2018 export projection by $1.0 billion.  Today's update examines the latest export forecast in more detail, and looks briefly at recent NAFTA news items pertaining to agriculture, including a report from the Nebraska Farm Bureau.
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EPA: Recent Perspectives on RFS and Agriculture

Recall that in December of 2016, agricultural policy observers expressed some measure of unease with President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.  As The Wall Street Journal stated at the time, "After campaigning as a strong supporter of the use of ethanol and other biofuels in the nation’s gasoline supply, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen a forceful adversary of those federal requirements to implement them."  Nearly one year later, today's update looks briefly at recent EPA action on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and Administrator Pruitt's visit to Iowa on Friday.
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